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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football: Anu Solomon, Brandon Dawkins set to battle for starting QB job

Tyler Baker
Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon (12) gets ready to pass during a game against Utah on Nov 14, 2015 at Arizona Stadium.

The first inklings of this summer’s quarterback competition came in the form of a painting on the side of the garage on Sixth Street next to Arizona Stadium.

Or rather, the painting over a painting.

In the spring of this year, Solomon’s portrait — which had graced the side of the garage — was painted over by Arizona Athletics’ new slogan “Our House,” signaling an unsure future for who would stand as the face of Arizona football.

During head coach Rich Rodriguez’s tenure at Arizona, it’s generally been known who the team’s starting quarterback will be heading into the start of a season, but this summer it’s a different story.

It’s shaping up to be a tale of two quarterbacks battling for the reigns of Arizona’s offense, in what’s expected to be an intense competition that might take until September for a winner to emerge.

Redshirt junior Anu Solomon and redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins will compete for the starting job, and this quarterback battle is a blessing in disguise for Rodriguez.

There is, of course, the old phrase, “if you have two quarterbacks, then you have no quarterback,” and that may have been a case with the back-and-forth performances Anu Solomon and Jerrard Randall shared last season, but Rodriguez has two starting-caliber quarterbacks on his roster this time around.

“In my opinion, we have two returning starters,” Rodriguez said at Pac-12 Conference Media Day, “One that’s more established in Anu Solomon—really good player particularly when he’s healthy—but he’s got a challenge with Brandon Dawkins, who played a little bit at the end of the year and has gotten better,”

Rodriguez continued, “I think we’re in a good situation when we have two guys competing for a job.”

It’s not just a typical job playing quarterback for Arizona; it’s a privilege to run the spread offense that Rodriguez has spent years to perfect and he’s absolutely correct that Solomon is more established, which is why it’ll be an uphill climb for Dawkins.

Or so you’d think.

Solomon missed two games last season with a concussion, and despite throwing for 20 touchdowns, his injury undoubtedly made him a bit gun shy at times, especially when scrambling out of the pocket.

Dawkins, on the other hand, showed that no matter the situation, he’s not worried about taking a big hit if it’ll put his team in a better position to win, and it showed in when he shined against ASU last season.

Solomon was out due to a concussion and Randall struggled early, putting Arizona in a three-touchdown hole.

And who was it that gave Arizona a chance to steal a rivalry game on the road? Brandon Dawkins.

Dawkins threw for two touchdowns and ran for one touchdown, but crucial interceptions in the fourth quarter cost Arizona the comeback victory.

Rodriguez was disappointed with the loss, but he wasn’t disappointed with Dawkins considering the circumstances.

Dawkins was battling a stomach illness he received the night before, was down three touchdowns when he checked in and put every ounce of energy he had on the field. That takes guts and determination and that could give him a leg up over Solomon.

After Dawkins’ performance, he put himself on the radar moving forward and in a position to compete for the starting job in the summer.

And it’s not just attention from fans or the media he’s receiving, but from his own team as well.

“I’ve never started a game for our team and I’ve never started from the first quarter to the end so it’s hard to say that I’ve won this team especially when I haven’t won the job yet,” Dawkins said on KAMP Radio. “At the end of the day—especially after ASU—the team trusts me and I trust them.”

Both Solomon and Dawkins have different personalities, which makes both of them stand out.

Solomon is a laid back, calm and relaxed quarterback, which is crucial for late-game situations.

Meanwhile Dawkins is the quarterback that is more visibly energetic and vocal, helping to get everyone to buy into the offense.

“I’m more of a loose and not too tense and uptight type of person,” Dawkins said. “I like to have fun and enjoy it, but at the same time, people know how I work and what I do and know when I’m taking it seriously. When I say something, I mean it.”

At the end of the day, only one quarterback can start the Sept. 3 opener against BYU, and eventually one will surpass the other.

But as of now it’s a dead heat.

“Solomon and Dawkins will go into camp splitting first team reps and we’ll see who will win the job,” Rodriguez said.

May the best quarterback win.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter

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